Summary: What makes for an effective Christian leader?
Have you ever had one of those days when everything went wrong? It is like the lawyer speaking to his client: "I have good news and bad news." "What’s the good news?" asks the client. "The jury is deadlocked." "Well, what’s the bad?" Responds the lawyer, "They can’t decide whether to hang you or shoot you." Murphy’s law (Whatever can go wrong will) and all its corollaries kick-in on days like that.
A Baptist Associational meeting had a layman read all the names of church members who had died during the past year. When he completed his task he sat down, and the music director for the session stepped to the podium and asked the congregation to join him in singing, "Revive Us Again."
Joshua had one of those days. During the conquest of Jericho the people had been told that all the valuables of that city were to be devoted to the Lord; nothing was to be touched Just when things were going well, one of the brethren got greedy. Achan, of the tribe of Judah, took some beautiful clothing and some silver and gold for himself. God was not amused. The very next time the Israelites went to fight -- this time against a puny little city called Ai -- they were (as we say it in the South) "whupped good!" Israel went to battle with about 3,000 troops, while Ai only had a small company. The scripture says that the Aites chased Israel out of town and out to the quarries. It was like the Dallas Cowboys being shut out by Jackson High’s J.V. squad.
What do you do when things go wrong? The world has so many offerings. There are self-help publications galore -- "How To Get Up When You’re Down" "Climbing the Ladder To Anywhere" "Say No in Three Words or Less" "Thirteen Million Steps To Success."
The Bible presents the only genuine alternative in the sea of worldly solutions...Biblical Self-Evaluation. Note the principles we must recognize:
EVEN GREAT LEADERS CAN BE FOOLED
But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things ; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel. Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, "Go up and spy out the region." So the men went up and spied out Ai. When they returned to Joshua, they said, "Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there." So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water. Josh 7:1-5 (NIV)
Men are not infallible -- Christian leaders are but men. Stuart Briscoe tells of a young preacher friend of his who was officiating at the funeral of a war veteran. The deceased’s military friends wanted to take part in the service at the funeral home, so they requested the pastor to lead them out through a side door. This he proceeded to do, but unfortunately the effect was somewhat marred when he picked the wrong door. The result was that they marched with military precision into a broom closet, in full view of the mourners, and had to beat a hasty retreat covered with confusion. Cardinal rule: If you’re going to lead, make sure you know where you’re going!
Another example of this is the Moskva Hotel, a huge, misshapen and asymmetrical building near the former Kremlin. According to legend, an architect created two different designs for the building and then sent the designs to Stalin for him to approve one or the other. Stalin, not paying attention to the designs, signed his approval to both and sent them back. No one dared bring the mistake to his attention, so the hotel was built using two very different designs.
Joshua was human, and couldn’t have known of the deceit in Achan’s heart. Leaders can be fooled. Recognizing that ought to make most leaders sensitive to their own limitations.
PRAYER IS THE CORRECT RESPONSE
Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell face down to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. And Joshua said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?" Josh 7.6-9